Hays studies diversity policy and practice across Asia markets.

Low numbers, high adherence.

The latest Asia Salary Guide report by Hays says only 50 per cent of organisations in Malaysia have formal diversity policies and practices in place, finds. However, when it comes to the implementation of these policies, Malaysia has among the highest adherence rates in the region.

The results of responses from close to 6000 working professionals located in the five Hays operating markets in Asia; namely China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia found only 50 per cent of employers in Malaysia had formal diversity policies and practices in place, a figure that remains almost unchanged from the Asia Salary Guide 2019 (49 per cent) and significantly lower than the Asia Salary Guide 2018 (54 per cent). While lack of progress in the area is evident, the figure is still on par with the Asia average (50 per cent), which actually saw a minor drop in formal diversity practices being implemented since last year (52 per cent).

However, when it comes to adhering to these policies, Malaysia fared well in comparison to other regions in Asia. The majority (67 per cent) of respondents in Malaysia said these policies were well or fairly well adhered to, making them the highest percentage to think so after Japan (83 per cent). The number of those who were unsure also dropped from 43 per cent last year to only 24 per cent this year, which shows positive movement towards growing awareness.

Results of the survey also revealed that 32 per cent of line managers in Malaysia were female, marking a small drop from 35 per cent last year. According to the 2019/2020 Hays Asia Diversity & Inclusion report, 80 per cent of professionals in Malaysia considered a diverse leadership team to have a positive impact on the retention of more diverse talent. And while 72 per cent said their leadership team was diverse, 40 per cent did not believe their organisation was working on developing under-represented groups into leadership roles – a rise from 30 per cent who thought so the year before. This could indicate a pervasive lack of female representation in leadership that may not be getting the attention it needs from a corporate management perspective. In comparison, the highest female representation in management was reported by Hong Kong SAR (39 per cent), while the lowest was in Japan (19 per cent).

According to the survey, only 15 per cent of employees in Malaysia were non-citizenship or permanent residence holders. While this is a slight increase from 13 per cent last year, the percentage remains relatively low as compared to Singapore (28 per cent) and Hong Kong (18 per cent). Additionally, only 49 per cent of employers in Malaysia said they would consider employing or sponsoring an overseas/expatriate candidate for skill-short areas – the lowest percentage in Asia to say so.

“While Malaysia made many strides towards improving diversity in its workforce last year, results of the survey show that they have not been enough to make a statistical difference just yet,” said Tom Osborne, managing director for Hays Malaysia. “Our studies have repeatedly shown that workplace diversity is intrinsically linked to increased income, innovation and productivity. The Malaysian government is steadily working on making this a reality, with the announcement of Women@Work being the newest initiative to increase participation of women in the workforce. These are all very positive developments that point to an exciting future for diversity in Malaysia’s workplaces.”

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